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Key architect of coalition politics

C. Gouridasan Nair
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Leader of the Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan pays homage to CPI leader Veliyam Bargavan in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday.— Photo: S. Gopakumar
Leader of the Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan pays homage to CPI leader Veliyam Bargavan in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday.— Photo: S. Gopakumar

If he does not like what you say, he will snap at you, and that means your case is lost but you can still count yourself lucky if you have your son or daughter tagging along.

He will fish out a chocolate from the deep recesses of his bag and offer it to him or her and chat away with the little one for several minutes.

Then, as you stand wondering what this man really is, he will quickly return to his stern self and dismiss you with a single word ‘shari’ but with a loving pat on the child’s shoulder.

He was no different at party meetings, not easy to convince, but always ready with a comforting word or pat when he saw someone in misery, in want or in search of care and attention. That was Veliyam Bhargavan, who completed his long stint in politics and life here on Wednesday.

Genuine politician

He was one of the truly genuine politicians who believed in plain speaking rather than sophistry. He eschewed power all through his life but few political leaders have enjoyed such unquestioned power all through their political career.

It was power derived from abnegation. For someone who was through the thick and thin of Left wing politics in Kerala for over six decades, Veliyam should have reached positions that few could aspire to.

His was the mind of a yogi, a path that he had sought to follow, but gave up after delving into the Vedas and Upanishads.

The path that he chose was that of relentless struggle for people’s causes, one that he stuck to till he breathed his last.

He did not waver from it even when the police beat him to a pulp during the 1954 transport workers’ strike, the pain and harm of which he carried till his last days.

He became member of the Assembly twice, in 1957 and 1960, and became an important member of what came to be known as the ‘ginger group’ of the undivided Communist Party’s legislature group.

He chose not to contest any election after that but began playing a more important role within the CPI and in the State politics as the Communist Party split in 1964, as the CPI allied with the newly formed CPI(M) in 1967, parted company with former comrades under painful circumstances in 1969, formed an alliance with the Congress, suffered the ignominy of the Emergency, and emerged from all that to join hands once again with the CPI(M) to form the Left Democratic Front (LDF). He was in many senses of the term a key architect of coalition politics in Kerala.

He became CPI State secretary in 1998, when the late P.K. Vasudevan Nair vacated the post, and continued to hold the post till July 2010. Within the alliance, he was uncompromising when it came to the interests of his party but always took care not to rock the boat or let the rival side make gains from his stern positions on intra-alliance issues.

He fought many a bitter political battle during his long innings, but never compromised on his commitment to the human values that set him on the path of public activism.

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